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Choosing your newborn photographer

(Photographers: Feel free to link directly to this page, but please do not copy this text for use in your own materials).

There are so many photographers entering the market – some of whom just purchased their first digital SLR cameras and have very little experience with photography, let alone the physiology and safety of a newborn. And it’s easy to think that a photographer is a photographer is a photographer. But, even among seasoned professionals, you’ll find vastly different creative visions and personal styles across everything from the planning to the shooting and editing.

It’s also easy to think that the photographer who created the most amazingly beautiful wedding images for you should also be able to photograph your newborn, too. Or that the photographer who shot your company’s website images should be able to photograph your wedding. And in some instances, that may be true. But, like any specialized service, often it’s not. Despite the obvious differences, newborn photographers and wedding photographers have one big thing in common: If their work is highly-sought after and their reputation favorable, there’s a reasonable probability that they’ve spent a great deal of time specializing in the nuances of that specific type of photography, honing their skills to become the best at what they do.

 

From a client perspective, these two genres of photography also share another very important thing: By the time you feel like your photographer hasn’t lived up to your expectations, it’s too late to go back and capture that moment in time again.

Just like your wedding, that true “newborn” window – the sweet spot for capturing those curly, sleepy, artful images – is here and gone before you blink. If this is your first baby, ask your friends who have children how quickly they change. It’s almost as if you can watch it happening with each day that passes following birth. Custom newborn photography is one of the most challenging types of photography and also one of the most specialized. The sessions are typically longer (an average of 2-3 hours for most newborn photographers) to allow plenty of time for feeding, settling, posing and diaper changes. And the level of specific skill is higher – this is the what I like to call the “baby whispering.” An experienced newborn photographer will have an arsenal of specific little tips and tricks to achieve the very best out of your baby and your session with the least amount of stress.

 

Given all of that, I realize trying to compare photographers can be a little exhausting. And whether or not you choose me, I want you to have the best custom newborn photography experience possible. I really mean that!

So here are several things to evaluate that go beyond simply comparing session fees and print prices. Feel free to print this checklist out and have it handy when you talk with photographers:

 

NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER CHECKLIST

  • How long has the photographer been photographing newborn babies professionally?
  • Does she have a broad portfolio of unique newborn clients posed and photographed by the photographer (vs. a newborn workshop where babies and “sets” are often preset/posed for the photographers to simply click away) to share with you and images that are in focus and not too dark or too bright? Do the images look more like snapshots or are they artfully composed? Do the babies look comfortable in the posing? Do the images convey a sense of serenity, comfort and safety?
  • Does the photographer’s style match the vision you have for your own images? Is she willing to incorporate your ideas and requests?
  • Does the photographer know how to achieve and use composite shots to safely create poses that would otherwise be unsafe for newborn physiology (like baby holding own head up on hands)?
  • Is the photographer’s business insured for liability separate of their homeowner’s policy, and are they licensed to pay taxes locally and federally?
  • What kind of equipment does the photographer use? Does he have backup lenses and camera bodies in case something goes awry during your session? (While it’s not all about the equipment, professional grade cameras and lenses truly help a skilled photographer take good images all the way to incredible. Similar to how professional quality scissors aid the best stylists in creating beautiful hair.)
  • Does the photographer work out of a studio or come to your home or both?
  • Does the photographer work alone and use you as a safety spotter for newborn posing or does she have an assistant?
  • Is the photographer up-to-date on their vaccinations, including the Whooping Cough (Pertussis) vaccine? (Adults can be silent carriers for Whooping Cough and not even know it, passing it along to infants).
  • What level of retouching will you receive in the images shown to you for ordering? Are there additional charges for retouching?
  • How long is the average session – will you feel rushed or nervous if baby isn’t calm or asleep?
  • What’s the ordering process like? Does the photographer assist you in making your selections and design decisions or do you order on your own?
  • What are the time frames for delivering your ordering gallery and then, once orders are placed and paid for, how long until you receive your finished products?
  • What kinds of professional affiliations, accreditation and training does the photographer have?
  • Does the photographer provide recent client references whom you may contact about their experience?